American Conor Daly has taken his third pole of the season with a new track record lap of 21.933 sec. and will start his (#22 Juncos Racing / INDECK / The College Network / Merchant Services Ltd. Mazda from the inside row in this evening's second annual 100-lap Star Mazda Championship Pizza Ranch 100. The official record of 20.200 sec. was set in 2009 by fellow Juncos driver Peter Dempsey, who went on to win from the pole.
Daly, winner of three races so far this season and currently leading the championship battle with 172 points, led a 5-car assault on the lap record set by Dempsey last year. Qualifying second and starting alongside Daly on the front row tonight was Brazilian driver Joao Victor Horto, driving the #18 Team Apex / Wabash Capital Investments Mazda. Horto, who scored a podium finish on Memorial Weekend in the Night Before the 500 at O'Reilly Raceway Park, and is is currently fourth in the championship turned a lap of 22.084 sec. Starting third, on the inside of the second row, will be Quebec driver Mikael Grenier with a lap of 22.094 sec in his #17 Andersen Racing / Slow Cow / April Super Flow / NAPA Auto Parts / HS Telecom / Desharnais Mazda. Grenier started from the pole and finished 2nd in Round 4 at the Night Before the 500 and is second in the championship battle.
"I just love this racetrack, particularly when I have a good a car as the one Juncos Racing gives me on a regular basis," said Daly, the son of racing legend and noted motorsports broadcaster Derek Daly. "The bump in Turn 1 is a bit bigger than last year, which might make for some excitement in the race, but the track is consistent and should be even better later in the day after the IndyCars and Indy Lights lay down some more rubber. I'm looking forward to tonight, but I'm expecting a tough race like the one here last year, so there's no room to relax."
Rounding out the top-5 were Norwegian racer Anders 'The Viking' Krohn, with a lap of 22.125 sec. in the #47 Andersen Racing / Norse Cutting & Abandonment / Trallfa / Colosseum Mazda and Venezuelan driver Jorge Goncalvez, who turned a lap of 22.144 in the #9 Team Apex / Wabash Capital Investments Mazda. Krohn started from the pole in the season-opener at Sebring, scored a podium finish in round 3 at Mazda Raceway and has finished in the top-5 at every race so far this season; he is third in the championship with 139 points. Goncalvez scored a podium finish at Sebring and has two top-10s to his credit, placing him 9th in the championship with 110 points.
Starting seventh on the grid with a lap of 22.295 sec. will be Californian Connor De Phillippi, the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Driver Development Ladder driver. He won the 2009 Skip Barber Pro Series and is racing the #11 JDC Motorsports / MAZDASPEED Motorsports / Skip Barber Mazda this season with backing from Mazda and the MAZDASPEED Ladder. De Phillippi has two top-5 and two top-7 finishes so far this season and is 6th in the championship with 124 points.
Texan J.W. Roberts, the lone Expert Series (ages 30 – 44) driver in the field, turned a lap of 23.612 sec in his #65 Team GDT / General Data Tech Mazda and will start from 14th on the grid.